Written by Amarachi Orie, CNN

Archeologists in Norway have found the world’s oldest dated runestone, that includes runic inscriptions from as much as 2,000 years in the past.

Researchers on the College of Oslo’s Museum of Cultural Historical past discovered the stone whereas investigating a burial floor within the municipality of Gap in jap Norway in fall 2021, in accordance with the museum.

The stone has been named “Svingerudsteinen,” or “the Svingerud Stone,” after the positioning the place it was discovered.

Burnt bones and charcoal from the cremation pit the place it was found revealed that the writing was carved into the reddish-brown sandstone boulder, measuring a couple of foot in peak and width, between 1 and 250 AD.

The runestone was present in a cremation pit in jap Norway. Credit score: Kjetil Nergaard/Nye Veier

“Me and my colleagues on the Museum of Cultural Historical past are very enthusiastic about this sensational discover that makes us rewrite some chapters within the historical past of runic writing,” runologist Kristel Zilmer, Professor of Written Tradition and Iconography on the museum, instructed CNN by way of electronic mail on Wednesday.

Zilmer investigated and interpreted the inscriptions on the stone whereas the archeologists decided its age by radiocarbon courting samples from the grave the place it was discovered.

Radiocarbon courting revealed the stone dates to between 1 and 250 AD. Credit score: Alexis Pantos/Museum of Cultural Historical past/College of Oslo

“It supplies first clear proof of the incidence of rune-stones in Scandinavia within the first centuries AD, because of the probabilities we have now had on this case to hold out radiocarbon courting of the grave during which the stone lay,” she added.

Historical language

Runes are the oldest identified type of writing in Scandinavia, and the alphabet was extensively used from the start of the Widespread Period (CE) and all through the Viking Age till the late Center Ages, in accordance with the college.

Scandinavia has a number of thousand runestones from the Viking Age — between 793 and 1066 AD — however there may be much less proof of runes from earlier occasions.

Of the runestones present in Norway, solely about 30 are believed up to now from sooner than round 550 AD.

Svingerudsteinen is the one stone discovered by archeologists that dates to earlier than 300 AD. It accommodates the primary three letters of the runic alphabet — “f,” “u” and “th” — on one in every of its sides, in accordance with the museum.

The stone options “sudden” inscriptions. Credit score: Alexis Pantos/Museum of Cultural Historical past/College of Oslo

“Runestones with runes from the older futhark (the runic alphabet) are very not often present in dateable, archaeological contexts and we understood that this had the potential to present us new information about runes,” Steinar Solheim, archaeologist and excavation supervisor on the Museum of Cultural Historical past, instructed CNN Wednesday. He mentioned the invention was “one thing distinctive.”

“Which means that the rune-stone custom is older, possibly even by a couple of hundred years, than we have now beforehand assumed. However this additionally makes us surprise what else we might not have identified about concerning using runic writing within the early Iron Age Scandinavian society,” Zilmer mentioned.

Who’s Idiberug?

The stone has a “very particular look,” in accordance with Zilmer, that includes an “sudden” combination of thinly incised, shallow runes, rune-like characters and different visible motifs. Some inscriptions are zigzag-shaped, whereas others kind a grid sample.

Eight runes on the entrance face of the stone spell “idiberug” when transformed into Roman letters.

Based on Zilmer, this could possibly be the identify of a girl known as “Idibera,” it could possibly be referring to a kin named “Idiberung,” or it might say, “for Idibera.”

Eight runes on the entrance face of the stone spell “idiberug” — presumably a girl’s identify. Credit score: Alexis Pantos/Museum of Cultural Historical past/College of Oslo

For the reason that manner of writing inscriptions different quite a bit, and the language modified significantly over time, deciphering the messages is a difficult activity and there may be nonetheless loads of analysis to be completed, the museum mentioned.

Zilmer mentioned they’re now working with a group of students on a joint educational publication, to be launched this 12 months, during which they are going to current their major findings.

The runestone will likely be on show on the museum from January 21 to February 26.

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